Another memory for a team used to creating drama this month. Eighth-seeded George Mason rallied from a 10-point deficit to edge ninth-seeded Villanova, 61-57.
When the game ended, a television reporter asked George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga how his team got back into the game.
“I have no idea,” Larranaga said.
Villanova squandered early control in a guard-oriented game enhanced by the broadcasting of Gus Johnson, who never fails to add a little sizzle to a tight game.
George Mason rallied from a six-point hole in the final two minutes during a frantic sequence of events. George Mason’s Isaiah Tate hit a three-pointer with just under two minutes to play to cut the deficit to three. With 1:34 to play, Mason’s Luke Hancock found Ryan Pearson with an interior pass for a three-point play to tie the game at 54.
Mason’s Mike Morrison converted a follow-up dunk to give the Patriots a two-point advantage with 54 seconds left - Mason’s first lead since five minutes into the game.
With 31.7 seconds left, Villanova’s Corey Fisher was fouled on a corner three-point attempt. Fisher made all three free throws.
Hancock then made a three-pointer with 19.8 seconds left. Back came Villanova, tossing up a wild shot. Pearson, sitting on the court near the basket, managed to secure the rebound. Villanova was awarded the ball because of a tie-up, but had to settle for a contested shot in the final seconds.
And the Patriots survive.
Villanova started the season 16-1. But it closed the regular season by losing seven of nine games, including five straight before the NCAA tournament.